And Now, The Competition

This was pointed out on Twitter earlier this morning by Kameron Hurley and I thought was worth pointing out here as well: SF Signal’s put out a list of 299 science fiction, fantasy and horror books/graphic novels coming out in the month of August, 2014. My book Lock In is in there, and so is Kameron’s. And so are 297 other books. That averages out to nearly ten books a day in the same general sphere of genres as our own — but inasmuch as most books come out on Tuesdays (as do most new albums, incidentally), it actually means that on August 26, the day my book comes out, there will be another 75 science fiction/fantasy/horror books coming out — including Kameron’s, which comes out the same day as mine.

This doesn’t count all the self-pubbed SF/F/H books that will come out that day (or in August). It also doesn’t count every other type of book that will come out that (or in August), either.

(It also doesn’t count the books I have competing against my own self, either, namely the Old Man’s War boxed set that’s coming out the same day as Lock In.)

This, in case you weren’t already aware, is why authors are often twitchy on release dates. Because every release day is a busy one, with lots of different new books for you, the reader, to choose from. You’re not going to buy them all — so we hope that one of the ones you buy will be ours. It’s the dream, anyway.

On the other hand: The fact that so many books are released every month and every week is a positive thing — dozens of writers publishing, many of them for the first time, and all sorts of stories to choose from. A healthy number of books means a successful field — and that’s good for everyone who writes and wants to publish. So in one sense all these authors and their books are my competition, but in another very real sense I want them all to succeed. Rising tide lifting boats, etc.

Any time someone suggests to you that publishing is dying (or whatever) go ahead and pop them over to this list. Publishing is pretty active for a dead field, is what I’m saying. I suspect it will be for a while yet. Good luck to all the authors publishing in August. And before. And after.

(P.S.: I’m currently reading The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley. It’s really good. You should get it when it comes out.)

30 Comments on “And Now, The Competition”

  1. 10 books a day: It sounds like paradise to me ;-). I still remember when i started with SF&F in early eighties. You were glad if there was a good new book a month (Germany was very retarded market back then).

  2. Publishing is alive and well, so many choices. It’s the reading I’m hoping to see increase. “More readers,” is my mantra. Well actually it goes something like “More readers, more pie,” but you get the point. I don’t believe that there can ever be too much of a good thing.

  3. I’ve already pre-ordered Lock In, and I have a review copy of The Mirror Empire on my Kindle. This publishing deluge is a curse for reviewers and scholars, who can never read everything and must therefore always feel somewhat behind the game. Still, I read and review as much as I can!

  4. Mirror Empire is very good, yeah.

    And you’re right, John, finding what you want in that sea of books is hard. I’d like to think as a reviewer I help point out the good stuff that has come to my reading pile. Maybe.

  5. Not all the books are first publications, so the numer of new books is lower. On the other hand it is a US list and does not include publication in the rest of the world, most of which you can probably get in the US through on-line vendors.

  6. Not sure if this was your intention or not but I just wish-listed five books off that page. I didn’t know Varley had a new Thunder and Lightning book coming tomorrow!

  7. Yes i’ve got a busy reading month ahead of me. I am on vacation that week and you, Kameron Hurley, Brent Weeks, Richard Kadrey, Simon R. Green, and Ann Aguire are going to make my read and relax vacation very enjoyable.

  8. No wonder my “To Be Read” list over at Goodreads is impossibly long!


    Attention tour stop bookstores: Please try to have the OMW boxed set available if possible – we will buy them. :-)

  9. That is pretty daunting. How does one find new things to read that are worth the time?
    Sure, you get MOUNTAINS of things mailed to you, and you can skim a few pages to see if you are interested.

  10. I come down on the side that sees it as less as of a competition and more of a mutual boosting of visibility. The wonderful thing about dedicated readers is that they read so many books, so many more books than any one author can produce. With the new digital eternity, books can also sit there patiently for years until they are bought or read. So the energy that other people’s good books bring to readers can ultimately translate into them one day looking at mine.

    I won’t be showing up on that list but I’m thrilled to share my release date with so many great stories. People who read books off this list of releases are far more likely to be enthused and pick up my book on a whim. I can only hope that the explosion of great stories builds the diverse fantasy and science fiction ecosystem that I’ve always dreamed of, both as a reader and a writer.

  11. I’ve got The Mirror Empire and Lock In preordered. Also have the audible version of Lock In preordered so I’ll get both the Wil Wheaton AND the Amber Benson narrations. It’s gonna be a good month!

  12. I recently finished The Way of Kings… and then I saw its book one of at least 10. and I just can’t do it again yet. I’m sorry, but the end of the Wheel of Time after 19 years of reading was just too much of a let down. I need something that I can finish in a year.

  13. There is a long awaited sidequel to a neurologically challenged item on a lot of people’s Books of the Decade list coming out that same day. Not that I want to make this an Echo-chamber for a writer of shocking power or anything.

  14. A correction to my previous post.
    The list does include books published in english speaking countries. Just not the test case I searched for (Earth Flight by Janet Edwards due out on the 14th in the UK). The list says most reprints have been excluded, I had seen two that had not, plus an omnibus of two previously published works so I had assumed reprint were included.

  15. Woohoo Echopraxia from my favorite convicted felon flesh-eating bacteria surviving author!!

    I’m sure it will be a bundle of sunshine and joy!

  16. One thing that page makes clear is how much Lock In‘s cover is unlike any of the others…until I got to Lev Grossman’s newest, which is also white and minimalist, and with extremely similar typefaces. Presumably because both of you are being strongly positioned for “mainstream” readers, not “genre” readers, and thus aren’t being visually coded as “genre.”

  17. My reading for the last few weeks has been predominantly archaeological and historical, with the books I bought before my travels, and the books I bought during my travels, mostly at sites and in museums which I am still reading.

    I do have happy memories of a proper bookshop in a little Turkish town; sadly, though unsurprisingly, the vast majorities of the texts were in Turkish which I cannot read, but it was still a pleasure just to wander around and feel myself in the company of people who loved books too…

  18. John, why do most books and movies come out on Tuesday? What is so special about Tuesday?

    You were in Beavercreek Saturday. I wasn’t. I hope you had fun anyway. (I work with a guy who thinks “Beavercreek” is the funniest town name he ever heard, even after I told him about Eek, Alaska.)

  19. Pam Adams

    ‘I just want them all……’

    It’s good to see that you are upholding the pure old fashioned lust for books; it would be helpful if you mentioned your future schedule so we don’t get trampled underfoot…

  20. Wow, I didn’t realize just how many new books in sci-fi/fan were released at a time. So many great choices! I love summer reading.

    @C.A. Bridges: I didn’t know Varley had a new Thunder and Lightning book coming tomorrow!

    Neither did I – I kind of want it, but I kind of don’t. I loved that series until Rolling Thunder came out. Couldn’t handle the protagonist at all. Ugh. Might pick it up in paperback just to see what happens, since I liked the earlier books. Thanks for the heads-up!

  21. I’ve pre-ordered Lock In, The Mirror Empire, and Echopraxia. I think the three of you should duke it out to see whose book I read first. The event should probably be held in Canada, or Watts automatically loses. Pay-Per-View fees could go to the Miscellaneous Steve Really Needs a Vacation charity (it’s legit…I swear). Last author standing gets their book read while I’m on vacation.

  22. of these 299 books, how many will a large chain bookseller like barnes and noble carry in its store? ITs hard to tell from their new release section, becasue some books are there for a while. I also think that is paid placement.

    anyone know how many of these will be one and done authors or will in general be a bomb where the publisher won’t buy any more books?

    in the US an author has to sell at a minimum what 2000-3000 books to be able to keep getting book contracts? I know it varies. Im not talking about someone who gets a nice size advance.

    I get the impression that publishing is as ruthless as professional sports. Most authors don’t last too long.

    I generally only read books if I either have read the author or have read reviews at review sites I like (such as elitist book reviews).

    This isn’t just for John. He gets mad when I ask him questions. Its for anyone on the forum.

  23. Guess: A lot of those books are graphic novels, which are less to turn up in a regular bookstore (some will–my local B&N has a significant GN section) than a specialty shop.

    A lot of those names are multiply-published authors already.

    I note a chunk of small press books, and a few from significant e-only presses; I’m not sure of the ecomies there, but in general publishers in those markets survive by highly focused marketing, often direct sales. Their books are unlikely to ear their authors a living, but that’s true of most, anyhow.

    As to what a publisher wants to sell in order to keep an author: depends on format. A mass market publisher won’t bother going to press for fewer than 5000 anticipated sales, and they’re losing money at that level. They’ll do it in hopes of the author building a following on subsequent books. (Yes, this still happens!)

    Hardcover needs to move fewer; sometimes a hardcover run is done just to get review attention, with the real sales hope on other formats: e-book immediately and ppk subsequently.

  24. Yeah my general reaction to “SF is dying because every publisher but X is publishing crud” is “Even *if* that’s true, what’s the problem? X will flourish; other publishing companies (possibly brand new ones) will copy X; problem solved. And in the meantime, publisher X already puts out more of your favorite stuff than you can read, so it’s no skin off your nose. Relax! And keep it down; I’m trying to read some ‘crud’ over here.”

  25. So how does that number compare historically? Were there more or fewer books being published in the macrogenre in, say, 2004? 1994? 1964?

  26. Yeah, I never get the sense of glee people seem to feel in announcing that “xyz” is “obviously a dead field.” People say that about mine all the time, and it makes me think they have an interesting definition of dead, given that it still pays my salary and has for years.

    There is a difference between “changing” and “dying.” In fact, not changing is a pretty fair description of being dead.

    Here’s to good stories and the people who bring them to us, no matter how they do it.

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